SCARY NOW vs. SCARY THEN

Last fall, we were delighted by a visit from a faraway friend.  She had road-tripped all the way from Maine, “topless” in a shiny red Miata outfitted with Car-Lashes, to complete an item on her Bucket List.
I would describe “G” as a free spirit mixed with a generous shot of daredevil.  A former Peace Corps volunteer, she entertains herself during the long northern winters by ice-sailing across a frozen lake and climbing out of windows to shovel the mountain of snow that drifts across her doorways.  Her plan was to conquer, in the space of one weekend, every rollercoaster at Cedar Point.  So we zoomed up, down, and upside-down until my vertigo could take no more.  Striving to reap the full Ohio experience, she asked to walk through a “Corny Maze” if we happened to pass one along the way.  Seriously?  They’re designed for kids and rank like, minus 3 on a 1-10 scale of excitement.  The only real fright factor is the likelihood that the corn is GMO and the field
has been doused with Round-Up.  But don’t get me started…
If only we could return to the days of yore, when getting scared out of your wits was nothing more than good, old-fashioned Halloween fun:

HALLOWEEN 1977

It’s just under forty degrees outside and Mom has laid down the law:
we will wear our coats under our costumes or we will not trick-or-treat.
I resignedly don my faux fur peacoat and she fastens my princess attire over the top.  The too-long gown deftly hides my scuffed school shoes, but my thick, furry arms extend from the puffed taffeta sleeves in a ridiculous, King Kong-meets-Cinderella kind of way.  I roll my eyes but Mom ignores me.  I slide on my plastic mask and align the eye and nose holes to maximize my field of vision and access to oxygen.  Aside from my youngest sister, whose fuzzy brown coat segues well with her Yogi Bear outfit, we all look equally goofy in our winterized Halloween get-up and this realization lifts my spirits.  At six o’clock on the dot, armed with flashlights and plastic treat buckets, the four of us spill out the front door, ready for action.

The sunlight is fading and an eerie wind whispers through the barren trees.  Dry leaves rustle and crunch under our feet as we hurry over to the neighbor’s.  We ring the doorbell and holler “trick-or-treat!”  She lies about how cute we look and tosses us each a “fun-size” candy bar.  We follow with a round of polite but muffled thank-yous, then continue as far down the street as we are allowed, crunching, doorbell-ringing, and holding out our slowly filling buckets.  We know from experience which house will have the coolest jack-o-lanterns, which old lady will dispense treats by the handful and which one will pass out “non-sweets” like toothbrushes or pencils or pennies, and which old geezer will set a big bowl of candy on the porch with a sign that says “TAKE ONE, PLEASE!” so he can enjoy an interruption-free game of poker with his buddies.

The only wild card is the Morton house.  Their kids are too old for trick-or-treating, so they make their own holiday fun.  One year, they built a family of leaf-stuffed scarecrows and sat them on lawn chairs on the porch.  Another, they performed a song-and-dance routine.  This year is admittedly disappointing, nothing but haunted music playing as we approach.  We ring the bell, collect our candy, and turn to leave when suddenly, the creak of hinges draws our eyes to the slowly opening lid of a wooden coffin hidden in one of the flower beds.  My older sister
approaches it, touches the vampire inside, and announces that he isn’t real.  The sentence has barely cleared her lips when the creature sits bolt upright and vaults itself over the side, flapping its satiny, black cape and coming right at us.  We scream in terror and take off running, our flashlight beams veering crazily in the darkness.  Half a block later, my shoe catches the hem of my gown and sends me and the contents of my treat bucket flying.  “Wait up!” I holler, stealing a quick backward glance.  Although my eyes report that Dracula has given up the chase and headed back to his coffin, my hammering heart remains skeptical.  My bare shins are freezing, but I kneel down and rake my hands through the frosty grass and fallen leaves until every last Snickers bar and Dum-Dum sucker has been recovered.  I wore my winter coat for this stuff, and believe me, ol’ King Kong-Cinderella is not going home without it.

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3 thoughts on “SCARY NOW vs. SCARY THEN

  1. Ursula Kender December 6, 2015 / 3:07 am

    Fun Memories!

    Like

  2. L. T. Garvin, Author October 30, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    This is a fantastic story, it takes me back to those days. I remember sweating behind those plastic masks and loosing my eye holes. I never much like being scared, introvert that I am, ha ha. Fun size bars?….what a downer! Oh and roller coasters, I get so sick, would probably kill me now 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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